Whether you like it or not, a return policy should be part of your e-Commerce business. There should be a clear description of your policies on your website. It should be easy to understand and easy to find. An attractive return policy encourages customers to purchase but making a return policy is a bit of a trial and error. Each different is a business so you need to experiment with what works for you. Fortunately, a lot of businesses have been experimenting with their policies and have come up with some of their common mistakes. Here are some mistakes that you should avoid.
Too generalized reshipping policy
It’s not enough that you put the areas you ship to. You should be specific. For example, in the US, what are the areas that you can cover? Take note that there are places which the USPS does not ship to. Better research those areas and place them on your website.
When a package is returned to you because it was not delivered, who will shoulder the reshipping cost? Will you cover it or will you insist that the customer pays for it? The answer depends on the situation. If the customer made the mistake of entering a wrong address, he should pay for the reshipping fee. If it was your mistake then you should cover it.
There is also the case of the loyal customer. This customer regularly buys from you and then one day she makes a mistake with the shipping address. Do you cover it instead of losing a loyal customer or will you insist that it was her mistake and that she should pay for it? Keep in mind how big an impact one angry customer can create to your brand.
Too short or too long returns period
This is another issue that is dependent on the products your ship. If you are into food, you can’t make the returns period too long. For other industries, businesses are slowly shifting to long returns policy. Several years ago, the standard was 30 days but a lot of retailers found this to be too long especially in the ready to wear industry. When a customer returns an order, it’s usually out of season already so the retailer has no choice but to put it on the sale rack. Some retailers, however, are lengthening their returns period especially those who rely on their websites for sales. According to them, it encourages the customer to purchase and to purchase more because they are confident that if something does not fit or they find out that their order is something they don’t like, they can easily return it.
No matter how long or short your returns period is make sure that your customer understands and agrees to it. You can put a checkbox before your checkout button that shows the customer acknowledges your policy. If you have an actual store, ask the customer to put an initial on the returns policy in the receipt. This way, no confusion, and argument will come up if the customer wants to return the merchandise.
If you have an actual store and an online store, your return policies should be the same. It’s confusing for a customer who buys from both your channels to have different policies. She might order online but return the item in your store. If you have different policies, this could pose a problem.
It is crucial to have a standardized policy across all stores and channels. It’s a sign that you respect your customers and your customers will appreciate that.
Having a good returns policy can improve your bottom line and gain more loyal customers in the long run.